Saturday, May 19, 2012


I have been putting off this project for over a year now. Originally I was going to do this for my sisters for Christmas 2010 of their kids. And then when that didn't happen I said I'd do it for Mother's Day for them, and it still just never happened. But, a friend of mine posted a blog that had easy to follow DIY instructions and it finally gave me the motivation to get this project done. Only now I was going to be selfish since I have a baby of my own to do instead of my doing one of my nieces and  nephews. Sorry sisters! Maybe for Christmas this year!

Anyways, I love silhouettes. When I got my DSLR a couple years ago, I had fun playing with one of the settings (before I knew how to really use my camera) on the beach with my family. That's when I decided I was going to make the silhouettes for my sisters myself.

So, fast forward to this year. A friend of mine posted this tutorial, and combined with what I already knew from prior research I decided I was ready to tackle this project. First, I needed a picture.

I knew the best silhouette pictures are when the light is behind the person, making their outline nice and defined. I knew that the sun shown through my sliding glass door each evening, so when the curtain was closed that made for the perfect place to take my picture. I got John to hold Charley and hoped that she would face the right direction for me to get the perfect picture.

After a few minutes, John dangled bananas in front of Charley to keep her still enough for the shutter button to capture her profile. So, my first piece of advice if you want to do this yourself: buy bananas. You're welcome.

She really likes bananas, but usually the jarred kind. Whatever works.
So then I took that picture to Photoshop. I played with the contrast and did some cropping until I ended up with this:


Then, to make it even more contrasty and defined, I clicked the magic wand tool button and for the most part, her profile was instantly selected for me. It did also pick up the shadow in the curtain behind her, but I fixed that in the next step.

Fullscreen capture 5192012 50817 PM

I then drug the selection over to a new blank, white file. I took the eraser and erased everything except what I wanted. (curtain shadow and her body which I didn't need) I went ahead and made a nice line for the bust while I was at it and ended up with this:

I drew the eyelashes in when I could still see her eyes so I knew exactly where they should be placed.

Next, I needed to size the silhouette to fit my frame. Speaking of frames...

Last weekend I went to garage sales with my mom and sisters. (Have more details about that coming soon!) One thing I was specifically looking for was a frame to use for this project. I actually announced to my mom and sisters as we were walking up to a yard sale that this is what I really wanted to find so if they saw something they could grab it for me. Two minutes later, I stumbled upon the exact thing I was looking for. I was going to settle for rectangular frames, but ultimately I wanted oval. Oval is what I found:


The frames were hideous as they were, but for $1 each I was willing to see if some paint could save them. If not, I wasn't out much.

But, lucky for me, paint did wonders. I had a frame for Charley, and an extra for Charley's future sibling.


Next, the other blog's DIY instructions said to print the silhouette on normal paper, and then trace onto the black cardstock. I went ahead and printed to double check the sizing.


I was happy with that, but was dreading the tracing step. I knew this would be the part I would screw up on and it would look nothing like Charley when done. So, I had another idea. What if I mirrored the picture and then printed it directly onto the black cardstock. It may show up enough that I would then be able to cut directly around the face on the cardstock and thus eliminating a step. Of course, it would only work if the black on black showed up...


It did. Yay! So, next step was to cut out around her sweet little face. I printed her backwards from the way I wanted her, so when finished the other side from the printed side would be the one to show.

I have an old rotary cutter that is meant for cutting fabrics but I have since switched brands so I no longer use this one for fabrics. I thought it would be perfect for this and it was. It was very easy to cut (very slowly) perfectly around her head.

Finally, I cut scrapbook paper to fit the frame, taped the silhouette onto the scrapbook paper (because I will likely change the scrapbook paper later when I find something I really want. This was just something I had on hand.), and put the frame back together again. I added her name and age and called it a day.


What do you think? I pretty much love it! It cost me ONE dollar to do, and including painting, drying, and Photoshopping time, 2 hours at the most. Super easy and very cute! I can definitely tell she's mine!

Finally, no, unless you are my sisters I will not make you one. Ha! Bird mobiles are my business so if you'd like one of those then I'll help you out. But, if you would still rather buy one than make one, go see her (here or here). She is really awesome and I had her number in my back pocket in case I wasn't able to do this myself. She'll take care of you!


Trisha Newman said...

Looks great. I like how you chose to use a patterned background for the frame too. Nice touch.

Laura Diniwilk said...

Love this - you are so flipping talented! It's kind of unfair that you'll only make them for your sisters, seeing as how the women in your family are all amazingly talented themselves. You should share the love with us non-crafty folk ;)

The garage sale frames just happened to have silhouettes in them? Seriously? That is a weird coincidence (insert twilight zone music here).

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Wow - it turned out so well! I love it.

Heather said...

Very cool! I bet you have Charlie's profile etched in your memory from oogling over her so many times the last few months (I know I do with my babe) and it's awesome how this silouette captures exactly that. Something to treasure for a long time to come.